Callan Stout's Breathing in the Rain Premieres at New York's Next Series

March 18, 2016

Current student Callan Stout’s new play Breathing in the Rain is running March 17 to 19 at the Schapiro Theatre as part of the New York’s Next series.

Breathing in the Rain tells the story of 12-year-old Mairyn and her younger sister as they strive for normalcy in the years after an epic storm destroyed their house; as the play begins, their FEMA trailer is being taking away, their mother is in the hospital and their father is away at work on a cruise ship. The only thing keeping child services from taking them is Tutu, their deceased grandfather, whose magic still protects them. “Mostly, Breathing in the Rain is a coming of age story,” said Stout, who will graduate in 2017. “But it deals with it as a loss of belief in magic and the realization that at 12/13, you're not capable of taking care of yourself.”

One of the themes she wanted to explore in the play was the idolization of fathers by daughters. The protagonist mythologizes her grandfather and glamorizes her father, while her mother also mythologizes the grandfather. “I also wanted to explore how two people who grew up on magical islands dealt with returning to a very real world and having to cope with the day to day realities of life,” Stout said. “Both Mama and Papa are from island countries before they made their way to the main land, met and started a family. Both of the islands they hail from are also constructed in the American collective unconscious as ‘tropical paradises.’ However, their current realities are very different, and in this play they both have great difficulty navigating their current realities, and because of that their daughter has to pick up the slack.”

Stout credits much of her growth as a writer at Columbia to the constant contact and discussion of her work with other insightful and articulate playwrights. “My cohort illuminates alternate entry points to my own work that I might not yet have discovered and challenges me to fully articulate the themes I'm trying to grapple with in my plays,” she said.

Seeing her work produced, Stout added, has allowed her to realize her plays in a way that readings and workshops do not allow. “For me, the sheer length of time spent in rehearsal is invaluable,” she said. “I learn the most about my work after I've been able to see the initial scene work and blocking all together. The first on-the-feet run of the whole play lets me see the overall movement of the plot, the characters, the themes and how the piece ultimately works as a whole dramatically.”

Working in a room with a team is a huge part of the experience that the New York’s Next New Play series at Columbia allows. “That’s when I'm able to look at big picture aspects of the script and make big changes. I’m able to understand them against the context of the entire play,” Stout said. “That's when the real rewriting starts.”

Tickets for Breathing in the Rain are free and can be reserved here.